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Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 10:46 GMT

World: Africa

Sudan: Road to recovery

Children who were once starving are now strong enough to play

By East Africa Correspondent Martin Dawes

The starving children of southern Sudan's famine areas are at last regaining the energy to live and play.

Tens of thousands of children are still receiving help in feeding centres, and the death rate is dropping.

[ image: More than a million have been affected by Sudan's famine]
More than a million have been affected by Sudan's famine
Although the famine is not yet over, a £1m per day humanitarian aid operation and a ceasefire for famine zones means that starving stand a chance of survival.

Before the ceasefire in July, the BBC showed hundreds of children in the worst affected region of Bahr el-Ghaza in the south, who had been abandoned in the chaos of Sudan's 15-year civil war.

Now, all but four youngsters have been reunited with their parents.

[ image: Fighting will hamper relief efforts]
Fighting will hamper relief efforts
A spokesperson from the UN Children's Fund says this is the result of the temporary peace agreement between the Sudanese Government and the main southern rebel movement, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

"In places where there is stability it is very simple, but in places where there are still unstable situations it is still very difficult to trace the parents of children," said Shitta Kassa.

No solution without peace

However, peace still hangs in the balance.

The government and the SPLA recently extended a ceasefire until mid-January in the Bahr el-Ghazal area, but few expect it to be renewed.

A SPLA spokesman said: "We in the southern Sudan took up arms for our rights. If that is achievable through peace then we don't have any problems."

[ image: Floods are another burden]
Floods are another burden
Sudan's war - one of the longest conflicts in Africa - pits the mainly Muslim, Arabic north against rebels who want autonomy.

The war led to wide-spread famine earlier this year, which killed an unknown number of people.

Aid agencies say that flooding is also devastating crops and displacing populations.

In parts of the south, flooding is at its worst in 30 years.

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